Pakistan’s first head of state, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, died in 1948 months after independence. Its first prime minister, Liaqat Ali Khan, was assassinated in 1951. After that political instability and economic difficulties were the norm. In October 1958, President Iskander Mirza, with the support of the army, suspended the 1956 Constitution, imposed martial law, and canceled the elections scheduled for January 1959. Twenty days later the military sent Mirza into exile to Britain, and Gen. Mohammad Ayub Khan assumed control of a military dictatorship. After Pakistan's loss in the 1965 war against India, Ayub Khan's power declined and he was forced to resign in March 1969. He handed the government over to the commander in chief of the army, General Agha Mohammed Yahya Khan, who became President and Chief Martial Law Administrator. [Source: “Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook” 2009, Gale]

The political system had been performing very poorly, especially since the assassination of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan in 1951. There was increasing public disillusionment with the system and little respect for political leaders, who were seen as incompetent and corrupt. In fact, decision-making power had been moving inexorably away from the leaders of the political parties and into the hands of the two national institutions that were seen as competent and honest — the bureaucracy and the army. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

According to the Columbia Encyclopedia: A liberal statement of constitutional principles was promulgated in 1949, but parts of the proposed constitution ran into orthodox Muslim opposition. On October 16, 1951, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated by an Afghan fanatic. His death left a leadership void that prime ministers Khwaja Nazimuddin (1951–53) and Muhammad Ali (1953–55) and governor-general Ghulam Muhammad (1951–55) failed to fill. In East Bengal, which had more than half of the nation's population, there was increasing dissatisfaction with the federal government in West Pakistan. In 1954, faced with growing crises, the government dissolved the constituent assembly and declared a state of emergency. In 1955, the existing provinces and princely states of West Pakistan were merged into a single province made up of 12 divisions, and the name of East Bengal was changed to East Pakistan, thus giving it at least the appearance of parity with West Pakistan. [Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., The Columbia University Press]

“In February, 1956, a new constitution was finally adopted, and Pakistan formally became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations; Gen. Iskander Mirza became the first president. Economic conditions remained precarious, even though large shipments of grain from the United States after 1953 had helped to relieve famine. In foreign relations, Pakistan's conflict with India over Kashmir remained unresolved, and Afghanistan continued its agitation for the formation of an autonomous Pushtunistan nation made up of the Pathan tribespeople along the northwest frontier. Pakistan joined the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization in 1954 and the Central Treaty Organization in 1955. After 1956 the threat to the stability of the Pakistan government gradually increased, stemming from continuing economic difficulties, frequent cabinet crises, and widespread political corruption.

Democracy Replaced by Military Rule in Pakistan

Democracy in Pakistan came to a halt in 1953, only seven years after independence, when the half-demented governor general Ghulam Mohammed (1895-1956) lead a bureaucratic coup that dismissed the legislature and invited the military to take their place. Martial law was imposed five years later. In October 1954, Muhammad ordered he police to bar members of the Constituent Assembly from entering the meeting hall on the day it was set to pass a new constitution. The following year a federal judge upheld the decision.

The first election occurred in 1954 in east Pakistan. Pakistan's first democratic elections were not held until 1970, almost 25 years after independence. In 1956, Pakistan a constitution was finally adopted. Pakistan became an Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Ghulan Muhammed resigned because of poor health and was replaced by General Iskander Mirza, (1899-1969) , the first President.

Unlike the Indian government which has remained secular, democratic and free from military takeovers, Pakistan has lived experienced four military coups (1958, 1969, 1977 and 1999) and endured military rule for about half of its existence. No civilians government ever completed its term.

After a series of military coups, martial law was declared and the constitution was suspended on October 1958 and discredited politicians were ousted. Democracy was suspended for 13 years. The early generals who ruled, many of who rose through he ranks under the British, had tired of the infighting, factionalism and calls for more Bengali autonomy. They felt they could do a better job of governing that the politicians. In October 1958, President Mirza was forced to resign. He and his Iranian wife were given only an hour to pack and prepare for life in exile in London. They were asked to buy their own air tickets and pay for their passports.

New Constituent Assembly Government in 1956

From 1947 to 1956, Pakistan was a Dominion in the Commonwealth of Nations. Pakistan’s dominion status was rejected in 1956 in favor of an “Islamic republic within the Commonwealth.” The republic declared in 1958 was stalled by a coup d'etat by Ayub Khan (1958–69), who was president during a period of internal instability and a second war with India in 1965. Attempts at civilian political rule failed, and the government imposed martial law between 1958 and 1962, and again between 1969 and 1971.

The revived Constituent Assembly convened in 1955. It differed in composition from the first such assembly because of the notable reduction of Muslim League members and the presence of a United Front coalition from East Bengal. Provincial autonomy was the main plank of the United Front. Also in 1955, failing health and the ascendancy of General Iskander Mirza forced Ghulam Mohammad to resign as governor general. He died the following year. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

The Muslim League had been overwhelmingly defeated in the 1954 provincial assembly elections by the United Front coalition of Bengali regional parties anchored by Fazlul Haq's Krishak Sramik Samajbadi Dal (Peasants and Workers Socialist Party) and the Awami League (People's League) led by Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy. Rejection of West Pakistan's dominance over East Pakistan and the desire for Bengali provincial autonomy were the main ingredients of the coalition's twenty-one-point platform. The East Pakistani election and the coalition's victory proved pyrrhic; Bengali factionalism surfaced soon after the election and the United Front fell apart.

During September and October 1954 a chain of events culminated in a confrontation between the governor general and the prime minister. Prime Minister Bogra tried to limit the powers of Governor General Ghulam Mohammad through hastily adopted amendments to the de facto constitution, the Government of India Act of 1935. The governor general, however, enlisted the tacit support of the army and civil service, dissolved the Constituent Assembly, and then formed a new cabinet. Bogra, a man without a personal following, remained prime minister but without effective power. General Iskander Mirza, who had been a soldier and civil servant, became minister of the interior; General Mohammad Ayub Khan, the army commander, became minister of defense; and Choudhry Mohammad Ali, former head of the civil service, remained minister of finance. The main objective of the new government was to end disruptive provincial politics and to provide the country with a new constitution. The Federal Court, however, declared that a new Constituent Assembly must be called. Ghulam Mohammad was unable to circumvent the order, and the new Constituent Assembly, elected by the provincial assemblies, met for the first time in July 1955. Bogra, who had little support in the new assembly, fell in August and was replaced by Choudhry; Ghulam Mohammad, plagued by poor health, was succeeded as governor general in September 1955 by Mirza. [Source: James Heitzman and Robert Worden, Library of Congress, 1989 *]

Pakistan Declared an Islamic State in 1956

In 1956 the Constituent Assembly adopted a constitution that proclaimed Pakistan an Islamic republic and contained directives for the establishment of an Islamic state. It also renamed the Constituent Assembly the Legislative Assembly. The lawyer-politicians who led the Pakistan movement used the principles and legal precedents of a nonreligious British parliamentary tradition even while they advanced the idea of Muslim nationhood as an axiom. Many of them represented a liberal movement in Islam, in which their personal religion was compatible with Western technology and political institutions. They saw the basis for democratic processes and tolerance in the Islamic tradition of ijma (consensus of the community) and ijtihad (the concept of continuing interpretations of Islamic law). Most of Pakistan's intelligentsia and Westernized elites belonged to the group of ijma modernists. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

In contrast stood the traditionalist ulama, whose position was a legalistic one based on the unity of religion and politics in Islam. The ulama asserted that the Quran, the sunna, and the sharia provided the general principles for all aspects of life if correctly interpreted and applied. The government's duty, therefore, was to recognize the role of the ulama in the interpretation of the law. Because the ulama and the less-learned mullahs (Muslim clerics) enjoyed influence among the masses, especially in urban areas, and because no politician could afford to be denounced as anti-Islamic, none dared publicly to ignore them. Nevertheless, they were not given powers of legal interpretation until the Muhammad Zia ul-Haq regime of 1977-88. The lawyer-politicians making decisions in the 1950s almost without exception preferred the courts and legal institutions they inherited from the British.

Another interpretation of Islam was provided by an Islamist movement in Pakistan, regarded in some quarters as fundamentalist. Its most significant organization was the Jamaat-i-Islami, which gradually built up support among the refugees, the urban lower middle-class, and students. Unlike the traditional ulama, the Islamist movement was the outcome of modern Islamic idealism. Crucial in the constitutional and political development of Pakistan, it forced politicians to face the question of Islamic identity. On occasion, definitions of Islamic identity resulted in violent controversy, as in Punjab during the early 1950s when agitation was directed against the Ahmadiyyas. In the mid-1970s, the Ahmadiyyas were declared to be non-Muslims by the government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (1971-77) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), based in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.

During the 1950s, however, the fundamentalist movement led by Maulana Abul Ala Maududi, the founder and leader of the Jamaat-i-Islami, succeeded only in introducing Islamic principles into the 1956 constitution. A nonjudiciable section called the Directive Principles of State Policy attempted to define ways in which the Islamic way of life and Islamic moral standards could be pursued. The principles contained injunctions against the consumption of alcohol and the practice of usury. The substance of the 1956 clauses reappeared in the 1962 constitution, but the Islamist cause was undefeated. Sharia courts were established under Zia, and under Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif in the early 1990s, the sharia was proclaimed the basic law of the land.

Leadership After New Constituent Assembly Government in 1956

From 1954 to Ayub's assumption of power in 1958, the Krishak Sramik and the Awami League waged a ceaseless battle for control of East Pakistan's provincial government. Choudhry Mohammad Ali, former head of the civil service and minister of finance, became prime minister in August 1955 after Mohammad Ali Bogra, a minor political figure from East Bengal who had previously been Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, resigned. Bogra, who had little support in the new assembly. Ghulam Mohammad, plagued by poor health, was succeeded as governor general in September 1955 by Major General Iskander Mirza, a military officer who served in civilian posts, including governor of East Bengal. [Source: James Heitzman and Robert Worden, Library of Congress, 1989 *]

Prime Minister Choudhry induced the politicians to agree on a constitution in 1956. The Awami League's Hussain Shahid Suhrawardy Suhrawardy succeeded Choudhry as prime minister in September 1956 and formed a coalition cabinet. He, like other Bengali politicians, was chosen by the central government to serve as a symbol of unity, but he failed to secure significant support from West Pakistani power brokers. Although he had a good reputation in East Pakistan and was respected for his prepartition association with Gandhi, his strenuous efforts to gain greater provincial autonomy for East Pakistan and a larger share of development funds for it were not well received in West Pakistan. [Source: James Heitzman and Robert Worden, Library of Congress, 1989 *]

Suhrawardy's thirteen months in office came to an end after he took a strong position against abrogation of the existing "One Unit" government for all of West Pakistan in favor of separate local governments for Sind, Punjab, Baluchistan, and the North-West Frontier Province. He thus lost much support from West Pakistan's provincial politicians. He also used emergency powers to prevent the formation of a Muslim League provincial government in West Pakistan, thereby losing much Punjabi backing. Moreover, his open advocacy of votes of confidence from the Constituent Assembly as the proper means of forming governments aroused the suspicions of President Mirza. In 1957 the president used his considerable influence to oust Suhrawardy from the office of prime minister. The drift toward economic decline and political chaos continued.

Collapse of the Parliamentary System

The parliamentary system outlined in the 1956 constitution required disciplined political parties, which did not exist. The Muslim League — the one political party that had appeared capable of developing into a national democratic party — continued to decline in prestige. In West Pakistan, Sindh and the North-West Frontier Province resented the political and economic dominance accorded Punjab and were hostile to the "One Unit Plan" introduced by the Constituent Assembly the year before. The One Unit Plan merged the western provinces of Balochistan, the NorthWest Frontier Province, Punjab, and Sindh into a single administrative unit named West Pakistan, which in the new Legislative Assembly was to have parity with the more populous province of East Pakistan.

In 1956 Suhrawardy formed a coalition cabinet at the center that included the Awami League and the newly formed Republican Party of the West Wing, which had broken off from the Muslim League. Suhrawardy was highly respected in East Pakistan, but he had no measurable political strength in West Pakistan. By taking a strong position in favor of the One Unit Plan, he lost support in Sindh, the North-West Frontier Province, and Balochistan.

Societal violence and ethnic unrest further complicated the growth and functioning of parliamentary government. In West Pakistan, chief minister Khan Sahib was assassinated. In the North-West Frontier Province, Khan Sahib's brother, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, of the National Awami Party, turned his back on national politics and said he would work for the attainment of a separate homeland for the Pakhtuns. And in Balochistan, the khan of Kalat again declared his independence, but the Pakistan Army restored Pakistani control.

On October 7, 1958, President Mirza, with the support of the army, suspended the 1956 constitution, imposed martial law, and canceled the elections scheduled for January 1959. Mirza was also supported by the civil service bureaucracy, which harbored deep suspicions of politicians. Mirza annulled the 1956 constitution by proclamation, dissolved the national and provincial assemblies, and banned political parties. Asserting that if Pakistan were to be saved, the army would have to assume political control. Mirza then declared martial law and appointed General Ayub Khan chief martial law administrator.

Nonetheless, twenty days later on October 27 Ayub moved against Mirza, sending him into lifetime exile in London. Ayub assumed the office of president himself. Thus began the second role of the military — self-appointed guardian of domestic affairs of state as well as defender against external enemies. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Revolution" of Ayub Khan

The republic declared in 1958 was stalled by a coup d'etat by army chief, General Mohammad Ayub Khan — Pakistan’s leader in 1958–69 — who was president during a period of internal instability and a second war with India in 1965. Ayub Khan seized control of Pakistan in , imposing martial law and banning all political activity for several years. He later began policies designed to reduce the political influence of East Pakistan in the government. Amid rising political tension in both East and West in 1968, Ayub was forced from office, and General Mohammad Yahya Khan, also opposed to greater independence for East Pakistan, assumed the presidency in 1969.

In East Pakistan the political impasse in 1958 culminated in a violent scuffle in the provincial assembly between members of the opposition and the police force, in which the deputy speaker was fatally injured and two ministers badly wounded. Uncomfortable with the workings of parliamentary democracy, unruliness in the East Pakistani provincial assembly elections and the threat of Baluch separatism in West Pakistan, on October 7, 1958, Mirza issued a proclamation that abolished political parties, abrogated the twoyear -old constitution, and placed the country under martial law. Mirza announced that martial law would be a temporary measure lasting only until a new constitution was drafted.

On October 27, he swore in a twelve-member cabinet that included Ayub as prime minister and three other generals in ministerial positions. Included among the eight civilians was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a former university lecturer and future leader of Pakistan. On the same day, the general exiled Mirza to London because "the armed services and the people demanded a clean break with the past." Until 1962, martial law continued and Ayub purged a number of politicians and civil servants from the government and replaced them with army officers. Ayub called his regime a "revolution to clean up the mess of black marketing and corruption."

Under these circumstances Ayub Khan took power. As part of a policy of “blending democracy with discipline, he named himself president, abolished the position of prime minister and replaced politicians with military officers. A new constitution was introduced in which people voted in for 80,000 “Basic Democrats.” who in turn voted for the president and the assemblies. In 1959, the administrative capital was moved from Karachi to Rawalpindi then to Islamabad in 1967.

Ayub Khan pursued a secularist agenda. He nationalized the religious endowments (“awqaf”). Placed restrictions on madrasah education and promoted a purely secular legal system. He aimed to make Islam a civ religion under state control. His policies angered Islamist, who helped engineer his downfall. Under his rule, industry prospered, the economy grew, the middle class benefitted and the rich got richer but little was done to help the poor. Little money was spent on basic education or social services. [Source: Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, Thomson Gale. 2007]

Rise of Ayub Khan

Mohammed Ayub Khan (1907-1964) Khan was born in Rehana, a village in then North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan). His family hailed from the Tareen tribe of Pashtuns. He was the first child of the second wife of of an officer in a cavalry regiment of the British Indian Army. He went in a school in Sarai Saleh, about four miles from his village, and gt there on mule back. Later he went to a school in Haripur, where his grandmother lived. He attended Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. by He served in the British army and was stationed in Burma in World War II. He was fluent in Urdu, English and his regional Northern Hindko dialect. [Source: Wikipedia]

In January 1951, Ayub Khan succeeded General Sir Douglas Gracey as commander in chief of the Pakistan Army, becoming the first Pakistani in that position. Although Ayub Khan's military career was not particularly brilliant and although he had not previously held a combat command, he was promoted over several senior officers with distinguished careers. Ayub Khan probably was selected because of his reputation as an able administrator, his presumed lack of political ambition, and his lack of powerful group backing. Coming from a humble family of an obscure Pakhtun tribe, Ayub Khan also lacked affiliation with major internal power blocks and was, therefore, acceptable to all elements. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Within a short time of his promotion, however, Ayub Khan had become a powerful political figure. Perhaps more than any other Pakistani, Ayub Khan was responsible for seeking and securing military and economic assistance from the United States and for aligning Pakistan with it in international affairs. As army commander in chief and for a time as minister of defense in 1954, Ayub Khan was empowered to veto virtually any government policy that he felt was inimical to the interests of the armed forces.

By 1958 Ayub Khan and his fellow officers decided to turn out the "inefficient and rascally" politicians — a task easily accomplished without bloodshed. Ayub Khan's philosophy was indebted to the Mughal and viceregal traditions; his rule was similarly highly personalized. Ayub Khan justified his assumption of power by citing the nation's need for stability and the necessity for the army to play a central role. When internal stability broke down in the 1960s, he remained contemptuous of lawyer-politicians and handed over power to his fellow army officers.

Ayub Khan Government

In October, 1958, President Mirza abrogated the constitution and granted power to the army under Gen. Muhammad Ayub Khan. Ayub subsequently assumed presidential powers (in 1960 he was elected to a five-year term), abolishing the office of prime minister and ruling by decree. Ayub Khan used two main approaches to governing in his first few years. He concentrated on consolidating power and intimidating the opposition. He also aimed to establish the groundwork for future stability through altering the economic, legal, and constitutional institutions.

Attempts at civilian political rule failed, and the government imposed martial law between 1958 and 1962, and again between 1969 and 1971. The imposition of martial law in 1958 targeted "antisocial" practices such as abducting women and children, black marketeering, smuggling, and hoarding. Many in the Civil Service of Pakistan and Police Service of Pakistan were investigated and punished for corruption, misconduct, inefficiency, or subversive activities. Ayub Khan's message was clear: he, not the civil servants, was in control. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Sterner measures were used against the politicians. The PRODA prescribed fifteen years' exclusion from public office for those found guilty of corruption. The Elective Bodies Disqualification Order (EBDO) authorized special tribunals to try former politicians for "misconduct," an infraction not clearly defined. Prosecution could be avoided if the accused agreed not to be a candidate for any elective body for a period of seven years. About 7,000 individuals were "EBDOed." Some people, including Suhrawardy, who was arrested, fought prosecution.

The Press and Publications Ordinance was amended in 1960 to specify broad conditions under which newspapers and other publications could be commandeered or closed down. Trade organizations, unions, and student groups were closely monitored and cautioned to avoid political activity, and imams at mosques were warned against including political matters in sermons.

On the whole, however, the martial law years were not severe. The army maintained low visibility and was content to uphold the traditional social order. By early 1959, most army units had resumed their regular duties. Ayub Khan generally left administration in the hands of the civil bureaucracy, with some exceptions.

Efforts were made to popularize the regime while the opposition was muzzled. Ayub Khan maintained a high public profile, often taking trips expressly to "meet the people." He was also aware of the need to address some of the acute grievances of East Pakistan. To the extent possible, only Bengali members of the civil service were posted in the East Wing; previously, many of the officers had been from the West Wing and knew neither the region nor the language. Dhaka was designated the legislative capital of Pakistan, while the newly created Islamabad became the administrative capital. Central government bodies, such as the Planning Commission, were now instructed to hold regular sessions in Dhaka. Public investment in East Pakistan increased, although private investment remained heavily skewed in favor of West Pakistan. The Ayub Khan regime was so highly centralized, however, that, in the absence of democratic institutions, densely populated and politicized Bengal continued to feel it was being slighted.

Military Rule of Pakistan in the 1950s

The results were mixed, both for Pakistan and for its soldiers. The military continued to enjoy preferred access to resources in Pakistan, and an elaborate system of quasi-governmental bodies provided economic opportunities for military personnel, especially after retirement. The country as a whole welcomed army rule, which brought a period of stability and rapid economic growth and vigorously attacked the corruption that beset the country. The army ruled with a firm but light hand, retaining ultimate control but working largely through the bureaucracy. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Economic gains, however, were so badly distributed that they seemed hollow for many Pakistanis. The involvement of military personnel in governing detracted from their primary mission. Although the military remained popular, it became associated with the political divisions of the country and was no longer solely the symbol of national unity. Opposition began to develop, especially among intellectuals and politicians.*

Ayub Khan lifted martial law in 1962, replacing it with an authoritarian constitution under which he was elected president. While the new system had some constructive features, it failed to gain public support, and even though the army was no longer governing the country, Ayub Khan and his system were seen as unpopular manifestations of military rule.*

Marial Law Reforms

Under the Ayub Khan dictatorship, a vigorous land reform and economic development program was launched, a new constitution, which provided for a federal Islamic republic with two provinces (East and West Pakistan) and two official languages (Bengali and Urdu), went into effect in 1962. The new city of Islamabad, north of Rawalpindi (which had been interim capital since 1959), became the national capital, and Dhaka, in East Pakistan, became the legislative capital. [Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., The Columbia University Press]

Between 1958 and 1962, Ayub Khan used martial law to initiate a number of reforms that reduced the power of groups opposing him. One such group was the landed aristocracy. The Land Reform Commission was set up in 1958, and in 1959 the government imposed a ceiling of 200 hectares of irrigated land and 400 hectares of unirrigated land in the West Wing for a single holding. In the East Wing, the landholding ceiling was raised from thirty-three hectares to forty-eight hectares. Landholders retained their dominant positions in the social hierarchy and their political influence but heeded Ayub Khan's warnings against political assertiveness. Moreover, some 4 million hectares of land in West Pakistan, much of it in Sindh, was released for public acquisition between 1959 and 1969 and sold mainly to civil and military officers, thus creating a new class of farmers having medium-sized holdings. These farms became immensely important for future agricultural development, but the peasants benefited scarcely at all. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

In 1955 a legal commission was set up to suggest reforms of the family and marriage laws. Ayub Khan examined its report and in 1961 issued the Family Laws Ordinance. Among other things, it restricted polygyny and "regulated" marriage and divorce, giving women more equal treatment under the law than they had had before. It was a humane measure supported by women's organizations in Pakistan, but the ordinance could not have been promulgated if the vehement opposition to it from the ulama and the fundamentalist Muslim groups had been allowed free expression. However, this law which was similar to the one passed on family planning, was relatively mild and did not seriously transform the patriarchal pattern of society.

Ayub Khan adopted an energetic approach toward economic development that soon bore fruit in a rising rate of economic growth. Land reform, consolidation of holdings, and stern measures against hoarding were combined with rural credit programs and work programs, higher procurement prices, augmented allocations for agriculture, and, especially, improved seeds to put the country on the road to self-sufficiency in food grains in the process described as the Green Revolution.

The Export Bonus Vouchers Scheme (1959) and tax incentives stimulated new industrial entrepreneurs and exporters. Bonus vouchers facilitated access to foreign exchange for imports of industrial machinery and raw materials. Tax concessions were offered for investment in less-developed areas. These measures had important consequences in bringing industry to Punjab and gave rise to a new class of small industrialists.

Basic Democracies and Representational Dictatorship

Ayub Khan's martial law regime, critics observed, was a form of "representational dictatorship," but the new political system, introduced in 1959 as "Basic Democracy," was an apt expression of what Ayub Khan called the particular "genius" of Pakistan. In 1962 a new constitution was promulgated as a product of that indirect elective system. Ayub Khan did not believe that a sophisticated parliamentary democracy was suitable for Pakistan. Instead, the Basic Democracies, as the individual administrative units were called, were intended to initiate and educate a largely illiterate population in the working of government by giving them limited representation and associating them with decision making at a "level commensurate with their ability." Basic Democracies were concerned with no more than local government and rural development. They were meant to provide a two-way channel of communication between the Ayub Khan regime and the common people and allow social change to move slowly. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

The Basic Democracies system set up five tiers of institutions. The lowest but most important tier was composed of union councils, one each for groups of villages having an approximate total population of 10,000. Each union council comprised ten directly elected members and five appointed members, all called Basic Democrats. Union councils were responsible for local agricultural and community development and for rural law and order maintenance; they were empowered to impose local taxes for local projects. These powers, however, were more than balanced at the local level by the fact that the controlling authority for the union councils was the deputy commissioner, whose high status and traditionally paternalistic attitudes often elicited obedient cooperation rather than demands.

The next tier consisted of the tehsil (subdistrict) councils, which performed coordination functions. Above them, the district (zilla) councils, chaired by the deputy commissioners, were composed of nominated official and nonofficial members, including the chairmen of union councils. The district councils were assigned both compulsory and optional functions pertaining to education, sanitation, local culture, and social welfare. Above them, the divisional advisory councils coordinated the activities with representatives of government departments. The highest tier consisted of one development advisory council for each province, chaired by the governor and appointed by the president. The urban areas had a similar arrangement, under which the smaller union councils were grouped together into municipal committees to perform similar duties. In 1960 the elected members of the union councils voted to confirm Ayub Khan's presidency, and under the 1962 constitution they formed an electoral college to elect the president, the National Assembly, and the provincial assemblies.

The system of Basic Democracies did not have time to take root or to fulfill Ayub Khan's intentions before he and the system fell in 1969. Whether or not a new class of political leaders equipped with some administrative experience could have emerged to replace those trained in British constitutional law was never discovered. And the system did not provide for the mobilization of the rural population around institutions of national integration. Its emphasis was on economic development and social welfare alone. The authority of the civil service was augmented in the Basic Democracies, and the power of the landlords and the big industrialists in the West Wing went unchallenged.

1962 Constitution

In 1958 Ayub Khan had promised a speedy return to constitutional government. In February 1960, an eleven-member constitutional commission was established. The commission's recommendations for direct elections, strong legislative and judicial organs, free political parties, and defined limitations on presidential authority went against Ayub Khan's philosophy of government, so he ordered other committees to make revisions. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

The new constitution promulgated by Ayub in March 1962 vested all executive authority of the republic in the president. As chief executive, the president could appoint ministers without approval by the legislature. There was no provision for a prime minister. There was a provision for a National Assembly and two provincial assemblies, whose members were to be chosen by the "Basic Democrats" — 80,000 voters organized into a five-tier hierarchy, with each tier electing officials to the next tier. Pakistan was declared a republic (without being specifically an Islamic republic) but, in deference to the religious scholars, the president was required to be a Muslim, and no law could be passed that was contrary to the tenets of Islam.

The 1962 constitution made few concessions to Bengalis. It was, instead, a document that buttressed centralized government under the guise of "basic democracies" programs, gave legal support to martial law, and turned parliamentary bodies into forums for debate. Throughout the Ayub years, East Pakistan and West Pakistan grew farther apart. The death of the Awami League's Suhrawardy in 1963 gave the mercurial Sheikh Mujibur Rahman — commonly known as Mujib — the leadership of East Pakistan's dominant party. Mujib, who as early as 1956 had advocated the "liberation" of East Pakistan and had been jailed in 1958 during the military coup, quickly and successfully brought the issue of East Pakistan's movement for autonomy to the forefront of the nation's politics.

The 1962 constitution retained some aspects of the Islamic nature of the republic but omitted the word Islamic in its original version; amid protests, Ayub Khan added that word later. The president would be a Muslim, and the Advisory Council of Islamic Ideology and the Islamic Research Institute were established to assist the government in reconciling all legislation with the tenets of the Quran and the sunna. Their functions were advisory and their members appointed by the president, so the ulama had no real power base.

Government Created by the 1962 Constitution

Ayub Khan sought to retain certain aspects of his dominant authority in the 1962 constitution, which ended the period of martial law. The document created a presidential system in which the traditional powers of the chief executive were augmented by control of the legislature, the power to issue ordinances, the right of appeal to referendum, protection from impeachment, control over the budget, and special emergency powers, which included the power to suspend civil rights. As the 1965 elections showed, the presidential system of government was opposed by those who equated constitutional government with parliamentary democracy. The 1962 constitution relaxed martial law limitations on personal freedom and made fundamental rights justiciable. The courts continued their traditional function of protecting the rights of individual citizens against encroachment by the government, but the government made it clear that the exercise of claims based on fundamental rights would not be permitted to nullify its previous progressive legislation on land reforms and family laws.

The National Assembly, consisting of 156 members (including six women) and elected by an electoral college of 80,000 Basic Democrats, was established as the federal legislature. Legislative powers were divided between the National Assembly and provincial legislative assemblies. The National Assembly was to hold sessions alternatively in Islamabad and Dhaka; the Supreme Court would also hold sessions in Dhaka. The ban on political parties was operational at the time of the first elections to the National Assembly and provincial legislative assemblies in January 1960, as was the prohibition on "EBDOed" politicians. Many of those elected were new and merged into factions formed on the basis of personal or provincial loyalties. Despite the ban, political parties functioned outside the legislative bodies as vehicles of criticism and formers of opinion. In late 1962, political parties were again legalized and factions crystallized into government and opposition groups. Ayub Khan combined fragments of the old Muslim League and created the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) as the official government party.

Ayub Khan Regime in the 1960s

According to the Columbia Encyclopedia: “In 1965, Ayub was reelected and a national assembly of 156 members — with East and West Pakistan each allocated 75 seats, and six seats reserved for women, who had previously been denied the vote under Islamic strictures — was elected. A treaty with India governing the use of the waters of the Indus basin was signed (1961). Communal strife was constantly present in the subcontinent — in January, 1961, several thousand Muslims were massacred in Madhya Pradesh state in India, and there were reprisals in Pakistan; in 1962 there was further communal conflict in Bengal. Diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan were severed (1961–63) after some border clashes and continued Afghan agitation, supported by the USSR, for an independent Pushtunistan. [Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., The Columbia University Press]

The presidential election of January 1965 resulted in a victory for Ayub Khan but also demonstrated the appeal of the opposition. Four political parties joined to form the Combined Opposition Parties (COP). These parties were the Council Muslim League, strongest in Punjab and Karachi; the Awami League, strongest in East Pakistan; the National Awami Party, strongest in the North-West Frontier Province, where it stood for dissolving the One Unit Plan; and the Jamaat-i-Islami, surprisingly supporting the candidacy of a woman. The COP nominated Fatima Jinnah (sister of the Quaid-i-Azam and known as Madar-i-Millet, the Mother of the Nation) their presidential candidate. The nine-point program put forward by the COP emphasized the restoration of parliamentary democracy. Ayub Khan won 63.3 percent of the electoral college vote. His majority was larger in West Pakistan (73.6 percent) than in East Pakistan (53.1 percent).

Ayub Khan and India

Ayub Khan articulated his foreign policy on several occasions, particularly in his autobiography, Friends not Masters. His objectives were the security and development of Pakistan and the preservation of its ideology as he saw it. Toward these ends, he sought to improve, or normalize, relations with Pakistan's immediate and looming neighbors — India, China, and the Soviet Union. While retaining and renewing the alliance with the United States, Ayub Khan emphasized his preference for friendship, not subordination, and bargained hard for higher returns to Pakistan. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Other than ideology and Kashmir, the main source of friction between Pakistan and India was the distribution of the waters of the Indus River system. As the upper riparian power, India controlled the headworks of the prepartition irrigation canals. After independence India had, in addition, constructed several multipurpose projects on the eastern tributaries of the Indus. Pakistan feared that India might repeat a 1948 incident that curtailed the water supply as a means of coercion. A compromise that appeared to meet the needs of both countries was reached during the 1950s; it was not until 1960 that a solution finally found favor with Ayub Khan and Jawaharlal Nehru.

The Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 was backed by the World Bank and the United States. Broadly speaking, the agreement allocated use of the three western Indus rivers (the Indus itself and its tributaries, the Jhelum and the Chenab) to Pakistan, and the three eastern Indus tributaries (the Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej) to India. The basis of the plan was that irrigation canals in Pakistan that had been supplied by the eastern rivers would begin to draw water from the western Indus rivers through a system of barrages and link canals. The agreement also detailed transitional arrangements, new irrigation and hydroelectric power works, and the waterlogging and salinity problems in Pakistan's Punjab. The Indus Basin Development Fund was established and financed by the World Bank, the major contributors to the Aid-to-Pakistan Consortium, and India.

Ayub Khan's Foreign Policy with China and the U.S.

Pakistan's tentative approaches to China intensified in 1959 when China's occupation of Tibet and the flight of the Dalai Lama to India ended five years of Chinese-Indian friendship. An entente between Pakistan and China evolved in inverse ratio to Sino-Indian hostility, which climaxed in a border war in 1962. This informal alliance became a keystone of Pakistan's foreign policy and grew to include a border agreement in March 1963, highway construction connecting the two countries at the Karakoram Pass, agreements on trade, and Chinese economic assistance and grants of military equipment, which was later thought to have included exchanges in nuclear technology. China's diplomatic support and transfer of military equipment was important to Pakistan during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War over Kashmir. China's new diplomatic influence in the UN was also exerted on Pakistan's behalf after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Ayub Khan's foreign minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, is often credited for this China policy, which gave Pakistan new flexibility in its international relationships. The entente deepened during the Zia regime (1977-88).

The security situation deteriorated still further as India, which had hitherto spent relatively little on defense, engaged in a major buildup of forces that were primarily aimed at China but could as readily be turned against Pakistan. In addition, after 1964 India took a series of steps to incorporate Kashmir more closely into the Indian union, rendering less likely any negotiations on the matter with Pakistan. Under the circumstances, Pakistan decided that its chances of gaining Kashmir would only deteriorate; hence, it opted for early action.*

Ayub Khan was the architect of Pakistan's policy of close alignment with the United States, and his first major foreign policy act was to sign bilateral economic and military agreements with the United States in 1959. Nevertheless, Ayub Khan expected more from these agreements than the United States was willing to offer and thus remained critical of the role the United States played in South Asia. He was vehemently opposed to simultaneous United States support, direct or indirect, for India's military, especially when this assistance was augmented in the wake of the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Ayub Khan maintained, as did many Pakistanis, that in return for the use of Pakistani military facilities, the United States owed Pakistan security allegiance in all cases, not merely in response to communist aggression. Especially troublesome to Pakistan was United States neutrality during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War. The United States stance at this time was a contributing factor to Pakistan's closing of United States communications and intelligence facilities near Peshawar. Pakistan did not extend the ten-year agreement signed in 1959.

Pakistan's tie to the United States was a product of the post-World War II communist containment strategy and the fear of Soviet expansionism. By the end of the 1950s, a number of factors had changed — some to Pakistan's advantage, but others not. The positive factor was the emergence of China as an independent international actor at odds with both the Soviet Union and India, thereby creating new policy options for Pakistan. Less favorable was a decline in international tensions that reduced the United States preoccupation with containment and, hence, Pakistan's value. At the same time, the Eisenhower administration was seeking to reclaim some of the ground it had lost with India, and this trend was strengthened as tensions grew between New Delhi and Beijing, Washington's principal bête-noire of the time. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Pakistan was able to profit from Sino-Indian hostility by securing China as an additional source of support, but ties to Beijing were anathema to Washington and caused serious problems in United States-Pakistan relations during the 1960s. Rapprochement between New Delhi and Washington also caused deep concern. Pakistan was appalled when, at the time of the SinoIndian War in 1962, the United States rushed to rearm India without meeting Pakistan's demands that assistance be coupled with effective pressure to force India to settle the Kashmir dispute. The United States reassured Pakistan that India was not arming against Pakistan, but Pakistan realized that the external equalizer it had brought into the subcontinent to make up its security deficit would now be devalued as the United States, at best, played an even-handed role or, at worst, shifted its principal attention to India.*

The Soviet Union strongly disapproved of Pakistan's alliance with the United States, but Moscow was interested in keeping doors open to both Pakistan and India. Ayub Khan was able to secure Soviet neutrality during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War.

Indo-Pakistani War of 1965

According to the Columbia Encyclopedia: “A series of conferences on Kashmir was held (Dec., 1962–Feb., 1963) between India and Pakistan following the Chinese assault (Oct., 1962) on India; both nations offered important concessions and solution of the long-standing dispute seemed imminent. However, Pakistan then signed a bilateral border agreement with China that involved the boundaries of the disputed state, and relations with India again became strained. Pakistan's continuing conflict with India over Kashmir erupted in fighting (Apr.–June, 1965) in the Rann of Kachchh region of NW India and SE West Pakistan and in an outbreak of warfare (August–September) in Kashmir. Some improvement in relations between the two countries came in 1966, when President Ayub Khan and Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri of India reached an accord in the Declaration of Tashkent at a meeting sponsored by the USSR. Despite the accord, however, the basic dispute over Kashmir remained unsettled. [Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., The Columbia University Press]

In mid-1965 Pakistan sent guerrilla forces into the Indian part of Kashmir in the hope of stirring up a rebellion that would either oust the Indians or at least force the issue back onto the international agenda. Pakistani forces did not find as much support among the Kashmiri population as they had hoped, but fighting spread by August, and a process of escalation culminated in a full-scale Indian offensive toward Lahore on September 6. Fighting, frequently very bitter, continued until a UN-sponsored cease-fire took hold on September 23. Both sides had tacitly agreed not to let the war spread to the East Wing of Pakistan. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

The 1965 war began as a series of border flare-ups along undemarcated territory at the Rann of Kutch in the southeast in April and soon after along the cease-fire line in Kashmir. The Rann of Kutch conflict was resolved by mutual consent and British sponsorship and arbitration, but the Kashmir conflict proved more dangerous and widespread. In the early spring of 1965, UN observers and India reported increased activity by infiltrators from Pakistan into Indian-held Kashmir. Pakistan hoped to support an uprising by Kashmiris against India. No such uprising took place, and by August India had retaken Pakistani-held positions in the north while Pakistan attacked in the Chamb sector in southwestern Kashmir in September. Each country had limited objectives, and neither was economically capable of sustaining a long war because military supplies were cut to both countries by the United States and Britain. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

The war was militarily inconclusive; each side held prisoners and some territory belonging to the other. Losses were relatively heavy — on the Pakistani side, twenty aircraft, 200 tanks, and 3,800 troops. Pakistan's army had been able to withstand Indian pressure, but a continuation of the fighting would only have led to further losses and ultimate defeat for Pakistan. Most Pakistanis, schooled in the belief of their own martial prowess, refused to accept the possibility of their country's military defeat by "Hindu India" and were, instead, quick to blame their failure to attain their military aims on what they considered to be the ineptitude of Ayub Khan and his government.*

End of the 1965 War with India

On September 23, a cease-fire was arranged through the UN Security Council. In January 1966, Ayub Khan and India's prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, signed the Tashkent Declaration, which formally ended hostilities and called for a mutual withdrawal of forces. This objectively statesmanlike act elicited an adverse reaction in West Pakistan. Students as well as politicians demonstrated in urban areas, and many were arrested. The Tashkent Declaration was the turning point in the political fortunes of the Ayub Khan administration.

In February 1966, a national conference was held in Lahore, where all the opposition parties convened to discuss their differences and their common interests. The central issue discussed was the Tashkent Declaration, which most of the assembled politicians characterized as Ayub Khan's unnecessary capitulation to India. More significant, perhaps, was the noticeable underrepresentation of politicians from the East Wing.

About 700 persons attended the conference, but only twenty-one were from the East Wing. They were led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (known as Mujib) of the Awami League, who presented his controversial six-point political and economic program for East Pakistani provincial autonomy. The six points consisted of the following demands that the government be federal and parliamentary in nature, its members elected by universal adult suffrage with legislative representation on the basis of distribution of population; that the federal government have principal responsibility for foreign affairs and defense only; that each wing have its own currency and separate fiscal accounts; that taxation occur at the provincial level, with a federal government funded by constitutionally guaranteed grants; that each federal unit control its own earnings of foreign exchange; and that each unit raise its own militia or paramilitary forces.

International Reaction to the 1965 War with India

Pakistan was rudely shocked by the reaction of the United States to the war. Judging the matter to be largely Pakistan s fault, the United States not only refused to come to Pakistan s aid under the terms of the Agreement of Cooperation, but issued a statement declaring its neutrality while also cutting off military supplies. The Pakistanis were embittered at what they considered a friend's betrayal, and the experience taught them to avoid relying on any single source of support. For its part, the United States was disillusioned by a war in which both sides used United States-supplied equipment. The war brought other repercussions for the security relationship as well. The United States withdrew its military assistance advisory group in July 1967. In response to these events, Pakistan declined to renew the lease on the Peshawar military facility, which ended in 1969. Eventually, United States-Pakistan relations grew measurably weaker as the United States became more deeply involved in Vietnam and as its broader interest in the security of South Asia waned. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Iran, Indonesia, and especially China gave political support to Pakistan during the war, thus suggesting new directions in Pakistan that might translate into support for its security concerns. Most striking was the attitude of the Soviet Union. Its post-Khrushchev leadership, rather than rallying reflexively to India's side, adopted a neutral position and ultimately provided the good offices at Tashkent, which led to the January 1966 Tashkent Declaration that restored the status quo ante.*

According to the Washington Post: “In an effort to gain support in the conflict with India, Pakistan somewhat modified its pro-Western policy after 1963 by establishing closer relations with Communist countries, especially with China, by taking a neutral position on some international issues, and by joining the Regional Co-operation for Development Program of SW Asian nations. East Pakistan's long-standing discontent with the federal government was expressed in 1966 by a movement for increased autonomy, supported by a general strike.

Impact of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965

The aftermath of the 1965 war saw a dramatic shift in Pakistan's security environment. Instead of a single alignment with the United States against China and the Soviet Union, Pakistan found itself cut off from United States military support, on increasingly warm terms with China, and treated equitably by the Soviet Union. Unchanged was the enmity with which India and Pakistan regarded each other over Kashmir. The result was the elaboration of a new security approach, called by Ayub Khan the "triangular tightrope" — a tricky endeavor to maintain good ties with the United States while cultivating China and the Soviet Union. Support from other developing nations was also welcome. None of the new relationships carried the weight of previous ties with the United States, but, taken together, they at least provided Pakistan with a political counterbalance to India. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Pakistan needed other sources of military supply, most urgently because of its wartime losses and the United States embargo. After 1965 China became Pakistan's principal military supplier, providing matériel to all three services in substantial quantity and at attractive prices. Submarines and Mirage aircraft were also purchased from France. The Soviet Union sought to woo Pakistan with military equipment, but that program never really developed because of Moscow's concern not to jeopardize its more important relationship with India. The United States gradually relaxed its embargo; however, it was only in 1973 that substantial supplies again flowed to Pakistan.*

The late 1960s were politically turbulent times for Pakistan; by 1969 conditions had deteriorated to the point where the army once again felt called on to intervene. On March 25, an ailing and discredited Ayub Khan transferred power to army commander in chief General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan, who declared himself president as well as chief martial law administrator (CMLA) and announced that Pakistan would have national general elections — for the first time since independence — and a new constitution. The elections in December 1970 were fair but led to the breakup of Pakistan. In the process, the army and Pakistan's security situation deteriorated still further.*

Ayub Khan’s Stature Declines After 1965 War with India

Ayub Khan's also lost the services of Minister of Foreign Affairs Bhutto, who resigned became a vocal opposition leader, and founded the Pakistan People's Party (PPP). By 1968 it was obvious that except for the military and the civil service, Ayub Khan had lost most of his support. Ayub Khan's illness in February 1968 and the alleged corruption of members of his family further weakened his position. In West Pakistan, Bhutto's PPP called for a "revolution"; in the east, the Awami League's six points became the rallying cry of the opposition.

In October 1968, the government sponsored a celebration called the Decade of Development. Instead of reminding people of the achievements of the Ayub Khan regime, the festivities highlighted the frustrations of the urban poor afflicted by inflation and the costs of the 1965 war. For the masses, Ayub Khan had become the symbol of inequality. Bhutto capitalized on this and challenged Ayub Khan at the ballot box. In East Pakistan, dissatisfaction with the system went deeper than opposition to Ayub Khan. In January 1969, several opposition parties formed the Democratic Action Committee with the declared aim of restoring democracy through a mass movement.

Ayub Khan reacted by alternating conciliation and repression. Disorder spread. The army moved into Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Dhaka, and Khulna to restore order. In rural areas of East Pakistan, a curfew was ineffective; local officials sensed government control ebbing and began retreating from the incipient peasant revolt. In February Ayub Khan released political prisoners, invited the Democratic Action Committee and others to meet him in Rawalpindi, promised a new constitution, and said he would not stand for reelection in 1970. Still in poor health and lacking the confidence of his generals, Ayub Khan sought a political settlement as violence continued.

On March 25, 1969, martial law was again proclaimed; General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan, the army commander in chief, was designated chief martial law administrator (CMLA). The 1962 constitution was abrogated, Ayub Khan announced his resignation, and Yahya Khan assumed the presidency. Yahya Khan soon promised elections on the basis of adult franchise to the National Assembly, which would draw up a new constitution. He also entered into discussions with leaders of political parties.

Ayub Khan Ousted and Replaced by Yayha Khan

Following disastrous riots in late 1968 and early 1969, Ayub resigned and handed the government over to Gen. Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan, the head of the army, who then declared martial law. The first direct universal voting since independence was held in December, 1970, to elect a National Assembly that would draft a new constitution and restore federal parliamentary government.

Over time people became increasingly fed up with Ayub Khan and a lack of democracy. After an attempt was made on his life he resigned and power was handed over to Gen. Agha Mohammed Yahya Khan (1917-1980) in March 1969 in what is regarded by some as another military coup. Yahya Kahn imposed martial law, abrogated the constitution, dissolved the national and provincial assemblies and banned political activity.. His regime called for elections in 1970

On February 21, 1969, Ayub announced that he would not run in the next presidential election in 1970. A state of near anarchy reigned with protests and strikes throughout the country. The police appeared helpless to control the mob violence, and the military stood aloof. At length, on March 25 Ayub resigned and handed over the administration to the commander in chief, General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan. Once again the country was placed under martial law.

Yahya assumed the titles of chief martial law administrator and president. He announced that he considered himself to be a transitional leader whose task would be to restore order and to conduct free elections for a new constituent assembly, which would then draft a new constitution. He appointed a largely civilian cabinet in August 1969 in preparation for the election, which was scheduled to take place in December 1970. Yahya moved with dispatch to settle two contentious issues by decree: the unpopular "One Unit" of West Pakistan, which was created as a condition for the 1956 constitution, was ended; and East Pakistan was awarded 162 seats out of the 300-member National Assembly.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Bangladesh Tourism Board, Bangladesh National Portal (www.bangladesh.gov.bd), The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Wikipedia and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated February 2022

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